returning to the basics

I’m reactive. I was thinking about this last night. Lately, little things have been so vivid. I don’t know how to describe it. Maybe it’s like when you are extremely light sensitive (perhaps after you’ve gotten your eyes dilated) and any time of high intensity of even regular light intensity bothers you. Well, I feel that way except in regards to emotions. I feel like my emotions are heightened and more intense than they sometimes are and in response I’m responding to things in a highly stimulating way.

I want to distinguish this from triggers. Triggers are when something  causes you to think about a certain behavior and perhaps even act on that behavior. This isn’t like that. Things aren’t making me want to act on behaviors they are just bombarding my emotions in what feels like double the way they normally do.

For instance, I saw someone was in pain on facebook the other day. Normally, how I would react to this would be with compassion and hope that they would feel better. This week I emphasized so much that I seemed to take on their pain as my own. This is not healthy nor helpful.

We naturally develop boundaries in order to survive. Boundaries let us watch the news at night without becoming extremely depressed. It lets us learn about hard/sad things without causing acute mental distress. It’s not that we are uncompassionent when boundaries works – it’s that we have adapted in a way that allows us to get up each day. It seems as if my boundaries have developed some holes in them and emotions that are usually regulated and monitored are slipping through.

The feeling of being bombarded by other’s emotions though isn’t a new feeling to me. In fact, it is simply the resurfacing of old feelings. As a child, I would be extremely upset if someone else was hurting or in pain. It would bother me to the extent it did effect how I functioned on a day to day level. I wanted to take away everyone else’s pain and if I couldn’t I felt a near desperation. For some reason those boundaries that people seem to learn inherently as children seem not to have formed fully.

I had to be literally taught about boundaries. How to set them up in my mind so that little things such as a dog wandering down the street doesn’t suddenly derail my whole day (ok that is a really extreme example but you get what I’m going for). I had to learn how to regulate my emotions so that I can handle the hard stuff, process it and then continue on without feeling paralyzed by sadness or fear. It took me a lot of work and a lot of time before I had firm mental boundaries in place.

I find that in the last week for some reason these have gotten weak again. Things are filtering through and causing me to agonize over what should be a situation that I can process and then move on. I have realized that I need to shrink my world down a little bit. Go back to the drawing board so to say. For me this means lots of self-soothing skills, staying at home, little outside stimulation and lots of doggy time.

I’ve been doing a lot of collaging,  journaling (although I monitor this as it can lead to a lot of emotional overload), coloring, reading and Wii playing. I’ve been trying to continue exercise (in moderation) as this helps calm my mind and makes things seem clearer. I’m taking time for myself and letting the silence and the easy rhythm of routine repair counteract the effects of the overload of the past couple of weeks.

And it’s working. It’s making me realize the importance of returning to basics every once in awhile. Being able to stop and say I need today to just be a quiet ‘me’ day. And I am learning that I need these days more frequently so a whole week isn’t required to get my boundaries back in place and my emotions stabilized.

I’ll come back to the living world soon enough but for now I’m going to be coloring while Shona and Mandalay cuddle next to me (oh and remembering to take my anxiety meds)



Filed under coping skills, Independence, New Life, PTSD, survivor

10 responses to “returning to the basics

  1. I’m so proud of you for recognizing the problem and being able to do something about coping and to return to basics. Even at my age, I need time out to be at home by myself and regroup. Rest, quietness, time on my little patio to read something light on my Kindle, eat when I want to, sleep when I want to, listen to favorite music. These are the things help me

    • Thanks Grandmom. I think it is something that I’m always going to need. We talked in treatment about how we receive energy. Some people receive energy from being around people. I receive energy through quiet time with myself.

  2. A

    Uber proud of you, you know that =) Enjoy the doggies, and I can’t wait to hang out with you when you resurface! see you soon love ❤

  3. Mary

    this was a good reminder to me too – thanks, Kate! Hope you are feeling more on track already.

  4. Boundaries have been the theme of life for me in the past few months…you are not alone!!

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one. It’s hard work!

      • It actually really sucks! But must be done. Boundaries, and finding my voice. Those are the 2 biggies.

        My EMDR therapist said something that stuck. She used her hands to illustrate the point. If your boundaries are too close, your voice is not hear (putting hand close to mouth) and the words just get echoed within. Silence. And madness. Replaying itself. And if your boundaries are too far away (holding hand out in front of her) your voice gets lost. Misinterpreted.

        I had never thought about “voice” and boundaries in that way.

  5. Pingback: back to the basics – round two | fightingmywayback

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